Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dear 5J... (A Letter to Cebu Pacific)

Dear 5J:

Last month, I took a last-minute trip to Hong Kong for work. It was pretty much an eleventh hour decision to take your airline (as work-related trips are usually with another carrier), but I couldn't get seats so I decided to just take 5J.

Everything went smoothly until I got back to Manila on the 5J111 on October 22. At the baggage carousel, I noticed my bag didn't come out with the other bags of the passengers I checked in with. I didn't really get to the airport in Hong Kong early, so I know my one checked-in baggage was one of the bags that got loaded late. Hence, I was expecting it to be one of the first to come out of the carousel in Manila. Of course, it doesn't necessarily follow so I didn't give it much thought when my bag finally got out. Upon retrieval of my one checked-in baggage, I didn't notice anything unusual until I finally handed my bag to my driver at the arrival area. My TSA lock fell to the floor. 

It was broken.

Forever in the locked position. I can no longer get this thing to unlock.

If you look closely, the lock has been damaged by excessive force. The locking mechanism doesn't even unlock anymore even if you key in the right combination. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the bag's zippers were no longer in place. I have a way of locking my bags such that the zippers don't move. And the zippers to the main compartment were not in position. Someone had opened the bag.

So I asked NAIA security at the help desk, and was directed to your office on the second level of NAIA Terminal 3. At the second level, we opened the bag and found its contents in disarray.

This wasn't how it was packed.

Was told I needed to go back to the arrival area right before customs, as there was a Cebu Pacific help desk there. So I went and I filled in a complaint form so guest relations can contact me. They also weighed the bag to see if it was still the same as its check-in weight. Weight upon check-in was 20.4 kilos. Weight upon arrival was 20.3 kilos. I was told that it could be just the weight of my lock. 100 grams?

Missing 100 grams.

The guys at the counter weren't very helpful. One guy took the lock and said it could have gotten caught on the conveyor. If it did, wouldn't my zipper be broken, too? The zipper was intact. Because I had to rush home to pack for another trip, I didn't have time to check if anything was missing. Thankfully, I attended a sourcing fair, and mostly had brochures in the bag. But my bag was full, because I also took the opportunity to get those IKEA shelves I had been looking for since June. So sorry, no, the theory of one of your men that my bag was in disarray only because it got shaken up on the flight does not hold. Someone opened my bag.

On Saturday, a few hours before my flight to Sydney, I received a call from 5J Guest Relations. It would have been a welcomed call, but the first thing he said didn't exactly appease this long-time 5J customer.

"Ma'am, before we proceed, I just want you to know that according to our Duty Supervisor, this has negative compensation."

What the...??! Who said anything about compensation in the first place? My main purpose for bringing my broken TSA lock to your attention is for your good company to investigate how it broke in the first place. You do not wash your hands off any responsibility when passengers actually let you handle their personal belongings! Ano yon? "We shall carry you across the ocean in our carrier but we will not be responsible if anything happens to you or your bags". Ganon? I was more concerned with what could have possibly gone wrong. If my lock did indeed get caught, I want to see that CCTV capture. Because, 5J, with the way I lock my bags, it would be impossible for this to happen. The zippers would have gotten caught, if ever, but not the lock. And all the zippers are intact. Still intact, even after another trip.

And, mind you, supposing it did get caught and the lock broke while in your possession, couldn't you mark off my bag? Or maybe leave a note explaining what happened, instead of having your baggage people put back the broken lock, hanging it on the zip-pulls hoping I wouldn't notice?

And so, because your guest relations officer turned off this already pissed-off customer with his negative compensation opening, he got an earful from me. I also work in Marketing, and let me tell you, this is not the way you deal with a customer you have inconvenienced.

After being promised that my complaint would be relayed to his Duty Supervisor, and after explaining that I was on my way out of the country that evening, your guest relations officer promised to update me via email.

About a week into my vacation, I received this email from your Luggage Unit.


Okay... so if you were doing manual loading, wouldn't your people be more careful? And what was it about your conveyor? Your email did not explain how my TSA lock broke! In fact, Kevin Linogao said the same thing that guest relations officer said on that Saturday when I received the first call!

You do not close a case without showing proof this actually happened, and excuse me, WHAT HAPPENED?!

You do not inconvenience a paying customer and walk off saying we are closing the case here just because. C'mon, 5J, get better people to handle your complaints, or have that Duty Supervisor call me with a better explanation.


Kaye Catral

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